THE ST. CLAIR SUMMER by Marvin & Mark Werlin Werlin

THE ST. CLAIR SUMMER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A gorgeous, rich heiress and her gorgeous, rich brother both lust after a gorgeous, brilliant artist--in a competent Sidney-Sheldon-style potboiler (international settings, 1966-73) that lacks Sheldon's knack for making his glamorous people fairly likable. There's certainly nothing especially likable about the beautiful young people here--""extraordinarily handsome,"" father-dominated David St. Clair and his sister Dorian, restless heirs to the St. Clair hotel empire run by their father Alexander and Uncle Jonathan: David's a secret homosexual being forced into the family business; Dorian's rebellious, flighty, promiscuous. And then--summer, 1966--enter ""beautiful"" young Alan Conway, son of a builder working on the St. Clairs' Long Island estate. Auntie Olivia St. Clair takes an interest in ambitious Alan's talent (""I'm going to be a portrait artist. . . the best since Van Dyck""), commissioning him to paint David and Dorian--who both instantly crave Alan despite his middle-classness. But, while Alan and Dorian are soon happily going at it in the boathouse, Alan's glamor-seeking, French-born mother is being seduced by Uncle Jonathan. . . and she'll commit suicide when he casually dumps her. So Alan rages (""The bastard killed my mother!""), Dorian won't renounce her family--and the two must part: Alan studies in N.Y. with a fading great-artist (into drugs), takes up with black/Jewish model Layla and her avant-garde crowd, makes it big, gets revenge on Jonathan by painting his Parisian actress-mistress in the nude, and has a dubious awakening during the 1968 Paris riots; Dorian pursues photography, acquires an English husband, works for a London magazine. The lovers will, however, occasionally make reconciliation attempts. And meanwhile hotelier David, after making two doomed passes at Alan, finds love as well as lust with gay-lib/dancer Jennings and even stands up to his father a bit. But finally--after Jonathan has been killed in an arbitrarily inserted bit of Mafia violence--David's sexual liberation leads to orgies, blackmail, and a ludicrous father/son double-death scene. The Werlins (The Savior, 1978) are recyling standard formulas here, and neither Alan nor Dorian is believable in artistic moments. Still, the prose is functional, the backgrounds are a bit more sophisticated than usual in this genre, and with lots of sex--about equally divided between straight and gay--it's serviceable trash for vicarious jet-setters.

Pub Date: April 14th, 1981
Publisher: New American Library